Back in 1994, Clive Hunt, one of the directors of Carlsberg- Tetley, asked me if I would have a look at their wine range. I did as instructed and twenty-five years later I am still advising the company (although Carlsberg UK’s wine division is now Crown Cellars).
This resulted in Carlsberg-Tetley taking on the responsibility for the sales and marketing of their wines and spirits. In the early days there were some spooky moments when the whole idea of the company wholesaling wines and spirits was under threat.
However, the profitable role that Crown Cellars can play in a mature on-trade market became self evident about a decade ago and our proposition has gone from strength to strength since.
Perhaps the single biggest shift is at the house wine end of things. Back in the mid-1990s house wine was still primarily French Vin de Table. We had the Louis Larose and Maison des Bretons ranges and that was just about it. By the turn of the millennium that was all starting to change. From France we introduced the Aimery range and from further afield we had exclusive house wine pairs from all the major European and New World countries. Some of the labels, such as Millstream (South Africa) and Ochre Mountain (Chile) are still going strong, whilst others have fallen by the wayside.
I find it incredible that we introduced the Invenio range over a dozen years ago. More recently we have continued the innovation, constantly refreshing what we have to offer at the inexpensive end of the market. The choice of varietals has expanded as has the style of labels – from the coolness of Ren and Las Ondas, via the gothic horror of Dead Man’s Dice, Clockwork Raven and Bone Orchard, to the gentle humour of Brightside and Drop Dead Gorgeous.
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